The Church in Asian America

Untold Stories of Church and Empires

The very successful Delano Grape Strike began when Filipino laborers walked off the field in Delano (Kern County) on September 8, 1965.  They were encouraged by other Filipino-American laborers who won a wage increase during the summer of 1965 in Coachella in Riverside County, California.  Mexican-American laborers joined them two weeks later, formed the United Farm Workers, and were joined later by Japanese-American farm workers.  Marchers carried a large wooden cross and the Virgin of Guadalupe, reflecting the presence of Catholic social justice convictions held by the laborers themselves, and labor leaders Philip VeracruzDolores Huerta, and Cesar Chavez.  This photo comes from a later date in 1973, from the Coachella picket line.  Photo credit:  Carlos LeGerrette and the Farm Worker Movement Documentation Project, UCSD Library. This began the most successful labor movement in American history, which coincided roughly with the Civil Rights Movement and the anti-Vietnam War movement.  These movements addressed three major injustices and heresies held by American evangelicals:  land and capital over labor, whites over other minorities, and American imperialist interests over other countries.


the church in asian-America

The selection of perspectives on church history in this section has been guided by three factors: (1) to demonstrate that Christianity has not been a “white man’s religion”; (2) the study of empire as a recurring motif in Scripture by recent biblical studies scholars; and (3) explorations of biblical Christian ethics on issues of power and polity, to understand how Christians were faithful to Christ or not.  Christian relational ethics continues a Christian theological anthropology that began with reflection on the human nature of Jesus, and the human experience of biblical Israel.

Messages and Essays on the Church in Asian-America

The Role of Jesus in Revolution and the Pursuit of Justice this is an evangelistic message that highlights the Christian-led and Christian-influenced non-violent resistance movements throughout the world in the 20th century.  They show the connections and spiritual vitality of Christian faith under empire or empire-like oppression.  Highlights the Korean Independence Movement against Imperial Japan, the Indian Independence Movement against Imperial Britain, and the Filipino People Power Movement against the U.S.-backed dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

Jesus in the Chinese & Chinese-American Experience (ppt)

Jesus in the Filipino & Filipino-American Experience (ppt)

Jesus in the Indian & Indian-American Experience (tbd)

Jesus in the Japanese & Japanese-American Experience

Jesus in the Korean & Korean-American Experience

Jesus in the Vietnamese & Vietnamese-American Experience

The Impact of Jesus in Asia:  Monologues of Asian Christians

Jesus in Asian-America: A Call to Mission

Christian Faith in Asia and Asian-America: Filipino, Korean, Chinese

Reflections on the Japanese Theology of Jesus' Suffering (TBD)

How Jesus Atones for My Shame (Honor-Shame blog, Nov 11, 2015) a short summary of the presentation below

Why Penal Substitution Damages Asian-Americans a presentation contrasting guilt-oriented and shame-oriented persons, and how they tend to interact with two different atonement theories:  penal substitution and medical substitution.

Medical Substitutionary Atonement, Personal Healing, and Social Justice a presentation given at the Honor-Shame Conference 2017, a gathering of missionaries, scholars, and ministry practitioners, and short Youtube video (4.5 min)

Stories and Spirituality: How the God Engages Human Evil a comparison of three different views, in table format: transcend it mentally, heal human nature, or external laws

Stories and Spirituality: About How the God Relates to Us a comparison of three different views, in table format: full contact pantheism, centered point of contact in a human being, no point of contact

Other Books and Articles on the Church in Asian-America 

HonorShame (website) resources for Majority World ministry

Inheritance: The Intersection of Faith and Culture (website)

Fuller Seminary Asian-American Center (website)

Lester E. Suzuki, Ministry in the Assembly and Relocation Centers of World War II (Amazon book, 1979) recounts both Buddhist and Christian ministries in the Japanese-American incarceration camps

Jung Young Lee, Marginality: The Key to Multicultural Theology (Amazon book, 1995) makes the case pastorally that no one culture should predominate in the Christian community

Jung Ha Kim, Bridge-Makers and Cross-Bearers: Korean-American Women and the Church (Amazon book, 1997) offers a very important history of Korean immigration to the U.S. and cultural comparisons between Korean and Korean-American communities, along with Confucian and Christian influences on women's experiences

Peter C. Phan, Journeys at the Margin: Toward an Autobiographical Theology in American-Asian Perspective (Amazon book, 1999) explores the role of being between two cultures, both in and beyond, and how that impacts the Christian experience

Jung Ha Kim and Pyong Gap Min, Religions in Asian America: Building Faith Communities: Building Faith Communities (Amazon book, 2002)

Kenneth L. Guest, God in Chinatown: Religion and Survival in New York's Evolving Immigrant Community (Amazon book, 2003)

Russell Jeung, Faithful Generations: Race and New Asian American Churches (Amazon book, Oct 2004)

Peter C. Phan, Vietnamese-American Catholics (Amazon book, 2005)

Marco G. Prouty, Cesar Chavez, the Catholic Bishops, and the Farmworkers' Struggle for Social Justice (Amazon book, Sep 15, 2006) significant to Asian-Americans because the labor strikes began with Filipino-American workers

J.R. Minkel, Confirmed: The U.S. Census Bureau Gave Up Names of Japanese-Americans in WW II (Scientific American, Mar 30, 2007)

Soong-Chan Rah, The Next Evangelicalism: Freeing the Church from Western Cultural Captivity (Amazon book, 2009)

Soong-Chan Rah, Many Colors: Cultural Intelligence for a Changing Church (Amazon book, 2010)

Brene Brown, Listening to Shame (Ted Talks, Mar 2012)

Russell Yee, Worship on the Way: Exploring Asian North American Christian Experience (book, Apr 2012)

Jeffrey P. Greenman and Gene L. Green, Global Theology in Evangelical Perspective: Exploring the Contextual Nature of Theology and Mission (Amazon book, 2012)

Robert Woodberry, The Missionary Roots of Liberal Democracy (American Political Science Review, May 2012) and review by Andrea Palpant Dilley, The Surprising Discovery About Those Colonialist, Proselytizing Missionaries (Christianity Today, Jan 8, 2014)

Joseph Ho, The Legacy of the Immigrant Church (video, Urbana 2012)

Paul Matsushima, Seek Justice: A Chinese and Japanese American Christian Response to Social Justice (Paul Matsushima blog, Sep 10, 2012) "This article examines how Asian American Christians in Los Angeles County have applied their faith to social justice. Using literature-based research and interviews with 16 Chinese and Japanese American Christians, the author discovers that Asian American Christians pursue social justice on four levels. First, the interviewees are involved in social justice because of their self-identification as racial minorities and because of the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Bible. Second, a Christian love drove many to build relationships with others. Third, the development of relationships allowed for the increased ability to form solidarity with racially and socioeconomically diverse groups. Finally, some pursue systemic justice through public policy to effect long term change."

Gwen Dewar, Is Your Child Securely Attached? The Strange Situation Test (Parenting Science, 2008 - 2014) fascinating cross-cultural study of child bonding to parents, noting Asian especially

Reappropriate, 10 Examples of AAPI’s Rich History of Resistance (blog, Jan 15, 2014)

Sam Louie, Asian Shame and Honor: A Cultural Conundrum and Case Study (Psychology Today, Jun 29, 2014)

Seanan Fong, Russell Jeung, Helen Kim, Ask an Expert: Why Young Chinese-Americans Don't Go to Church (blog, Jul 28, 2014)

Soong-Chan Rah, Prophetic Lament: A Call for Justice in Troubled Times (Amazon book, 2015)

Jackson Wu, 4 Keys to Evangelism in Honor-Shame Cultures (Christianity Today, Mar 2, 2015)

Hilary Jacobs Hendel, It's Not Always Depression (NY Times, Mar 10, 2015) about shame stemming from a lack of connection

Andy Crouch, The Return of Shame (Christianity Today, Mar 10, 2015)

Korea On Demand, Traces of Jesus, Part 1: Foreman Samuel Moore (Korean OnDemand, Mar 31, 2015)

Gabriel J. Catanus, The Gospel According to Manny Pacquiao: A Pastoral Invitation to Filipino American Christians (blog, Apr 28, 2015)

Stephen Freeman, Face to Face (Ancient Faith blog, May 2, 2015)

Steve Goldstein, Remembering Local Japanese American Speaker Masaji Inoshita (KJZZ, Jul 29, 2015)

Natasha Varner, Despite History, Japanese Americans and African Americans Are Working Together to Claim Their Rights (PRI, Feb 23, 2016)

Joe Cucci, 27 Powerful Photos of the Evacuation of Japanese-Americans During World War II (The Roosevelts, Mar 31, 2016) 

DeNeen L. Brown, Thurgood Marshall’s Interracial Love: ‘I Don’t Care What People Think. I’m Marrying You.’ (Washington Post, Aug, 18, 2016) regarding Filipina-American Cecilia Suyat Marshall

Andrew Ong, Why Most Chinese American Christians Are Conservative Evangelicals (Reformed Margins, Aug 26, 2016)

Russell Jeung, At Home in Exile: Finding Jesus among My Ancestors and Refugee Neighbors (Amazon book, Oct 4, 2016) 

Anne M. Blankenship, Christianity, Social Justice, and the Japanese American Incarceration during World War II (Amazon book, Nov 7, 2016) 

Tim Chambers, Dorothea Lange’s Censored Photographs of FDR’s Japanese Concentration Camps (Anchor Editions, Dec 7, 2016)

Jean Lotus, Chicago Welcomed 30,000 Japanese Internees After Pearl Harbor (Cook County Chronicle, Dec 7, 2016)

Nikki Toyama-Szeto, All the Noise About Shusako Endo’s Silence (Missio Alliance, Dec 16, 2016)

Mark Tseng Putterman, When Silence Is Betrayal: On Asian American Debt To The Radical King (Medium, Jan 16, 2017)

Patrick Young, When a Ban on the Chinese Was Proposed and Frederick Douglass Spoke Out (Long Island Wins, Feb 8, 2017)

John Muyskens and Aaron Steckelberg, Incarceration by Executive Order (Washington Post, Feb 19, 2017)

Joann Pittman, The Lenses of History (China Source, Oct 11, 2017)

Paul Matsushima, The Struggles of Discussing Race in the Asian American Evangelical Church (Inheritance, May 5, 2018)

Jackson Wu, Does Paul Use Shame to Challenge or Correct the Corinthians? (Patheos, Nov 8, 2017)

Robert Chao Romero, Critical Race Theory in Christianity Part I: The Christian-Ethnic Studies Borderlands (blog, Sep 7, 2018) gives a very illuminating personal account of being a pastor, immigration lawyer, and professor teaching at UCLA in Ethnic Studies, as well as a good response to recent conservative evangelical denials that social justice is an organic and fundamental part of the Christian gospel message.

Randall, Rep Ted Lieu Defies Orders Not to Play Audio of Child Detainees (AsAm News, Dec 31, 2018) said, "Ripping kids away from their parents is immoral. I believe in Jesus Christ. Every single thing in the Gospel goes against family separation."

the church in asia: untold stories of church and empires

church and empire: reflections on faithfulness and compromise: topics